Among graffiti writers and those influenced by graffiti culture, everyone knows of Darryl “CORNBREAD” McCray, the person credited as the first in modern history to write his name on the walls for hood fame. In his native Philadelphia, CORNBREAD was known for his repetitive nom de guerre all over the City of Brotherly Love in 1965, about six years before TAKI 183 was acknowledged by the New York Times for starting the writing epidemic in NYC. “New York had actually took graffiti culture about five levels higher than where Philadelphia was at,” says CORNBREAD about the pioneers who started painting subway cars.
In an exclusive interview with Mass Appeal, Cornbread, a now mild mannered 63-year-old who still lives in North Philadelphia, came all the way to Manhattan to grab a can of Rusto, get up on a wall on the Lower East Side and give up a piece of history. Aging gracefully has only allowed Cornbread to continue to eloquently describe his adventures and what it’s like to be considered the planet’s very first writer. Watch the legend speak about his origins as a young writer in a Philadelphia juvenile detention center, giving autographs to judges while in court and intricate details of the infamous painted elephant story at the Philadelphia Zoo.